Around 70 percent of European citizens stream or download movies online, though some of them are legal, according to a recent European Commission study. Filmmakers need to appreciate the intricacies of filming and distributing content in Europe, with most films staying in their host nation.
Sixty-eight percent of survey respondents say they pirate films for free, with more than half watching on a smartphone or PC.
"The study confirms that the European film industry is not making the most of its potential to reach new audiences or capitalizing on cross-border partnerships," the European Commission press release states. "We encourage filmmakers to make the most of the funding provided through Creative Europe, the EU's new program for the cultural and creative sectors, and its media subprogram in particular."
There is a global fight against Internet piracy, with copyright groups on the offensive to shut down piracy websites - and sometimes target users directly.
The underground Silk Road 2.0 website was reportedly hacked and those responsible ran off with an estimated $2.6 million for their efforts.
"I am sweating as I write this... I must utter words all too familiar to this scared community: We have been hacked," Silk Road 2.0 administrators posted on a forum. "Our initial investigations indicate that a vendor exploited a recently discovered vulnerability in the bitcoin protocol known as 'transaction malleability' to repeatedly withdraw coins from our system until it was completely empty."
Although Defcon, the admin who posted a message on the Silk Road 2.0 forums didn't post an exact figure taken, security experts believe 4,400 coins - the equivalent of close to $2.6 million - was taken.
The original Silk Road successfully operated in the shadows before drawing federal attention, though Silk Road 2.0 never had the same luxury. However, the bitcoin exploit also recently ravaged several bitcoin exchanges, showing the digital currency has significant security issues.
Facebook is being applauded for its decision to expand gender identification from male or female to include bi-gender, androgynous and other identifiers, much to the delight of the LGBTQ community. Early reports indicate there are at least 56 different options, which users can customize so only select friends can see.
"When you come to Facebook to connect with the people, causes, and organizations you care about, we want you to feel comfortable being your true, authentic self," the company said on the Facebook Diversity page. "An important part of this is the expression of gender, especially when it extends beyond the definitions of just 'male or female.'"
The new Facebook custom gender option is currently available to U.S. Facebook users only, but is expected to roll out internationally in the future.
This makes sense for Facebook, a San Francisco Bay Area-based company, as the No. 1 social networking site aims to appeal to everyone as individuals.
Humans are no longer the dominant source of internet traffic if a new report from Incapsula is correct. According to the report, humans only account for about 38.5-percent of all internet traffic while search engines, and robots of a good nature accounts for about 31-percent. The other 30.5-percent are made up of malicious, nefarious, and unsavory robots. Incapsula generated the chart below based on a survey of more than 1.45 billion visits on 20,000 websites from 249 countries around the world.
Content scrapers account for about 5-percent of internet traffic, while hacking tools make up 4.5-percent. Spam bots and other bad robot-originated traffic combine to make up about 21-percent of global internet traffic. That means that in total Robots make up about 61.5-percent of all the internet traffic in the world. This number seems staggering when you consider that good bot-based traffic is almost eclipsed by the so-called bad-bot traffic, a trend that is expected to increase over the next decade.
Microsoft is censoring its Bing search engine results for Chinese-language searches, with politically sensitive topics registering different results than if searched in English, according to the cyber monitoring group Greatfire.org.
FreeWeibo found that uncensored Chinese blog searchers were drastically different in English for U.S. residents searching for controversial Chinese topics. For example, results for the Dalai Lama, Tiananmen Square, and other political incidents were changed for Bing visitors, even if residing outside the "Great Firewall of China."
"We are 100% sure our findings indicate that Microsoft is cleansing search results in the United States to remove negative news and information about China," the group noted. "And they are doing this in every market in which they operate in the world."
Of course, Microsoft denied the accusations, though if this is true, expect a government investigation - and severe penalties levied against the search company. As Microsoft begins working under just its third CEO in company history, accusations of censorship and NSA-related spying habits along with Bing censorship will give Satya Nadella fits.
The No. 1 MMA promotion in the world, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), recently shut down Cagewatcher.eu, which illegally streamed two UFC pay-per-view events. The site has been shut down and the UFC now has possession of the site's users, including their IP addresses, user names and e-mail addresses - which will be handed over to the law office tasked with targeting users.
Attempting to go after individual users of streaming piracy sites tends to be unsuccessful, and earn the copyright holders negative backlash. Similar to other attempts by the RIAA, MPAA and other copyright groups, the UFC will likely look to quickly - and quietly - punish viewers by offering them out-of-court settlements.
The UFC's rather Draconian efforts against Internet piracy lead to a number of YouTube videos pulled - and the No. 1 MMA promotion also has its Fight Pass to show live events, event replays, television shows, original content, and videos from the fight library.
Ice hockey, maple syrup, Bieber and... Internet piracy? The International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) recently recommended Canada's addition to the Special 301 "watch list." There is special interest in the number of torrent sites and online piracy groups that are based in Canada, including a wide collection of smaller torrent sites.
"Even after the shuttering of Isohunt, Canada is still the home to some of the world's most popular Internet sites dedicated to piracy, including Torrentz.eu and Kickass.to, which garnered rankings of third and second place, respectively, on one of the most widely accessed listings on the world's most popular illicit BitTorrent sites," the IIPA claims.
The IIPA is made up of the RIAA, MPAA, ESA, BSA, and other copyright groups that share information, effective anti-piracy measures, and current legal efforts. IIPA officials would like to see U.S. lawmakers influence Canadian peers to crack down more harshly on piracy.
The casino industry in the United States understands the great potential for online gambling, though underage gambling, money laundering, and increasingly difficult national legislation makes it a rather confusing battle.
The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling recently launched an ad effort to warn against Internet gambling, with an emphasis on criminals and terrorists potentially using the online service to commit money laundering. Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson, who supports the coalition's effort, said he's ready to spend "whatever it takes" to keep online gambling out of the limelight in the United States.
"The coalition will operate exclusively at the federal level - encouraging Congress to embrace regulation as the best means to protect minors, detect money launders and eliminate a dangerous black market," Geoff Freeman, American Gaming Association President, recently noted.
Casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City aren't as keen on Internet gambling, as they are concerned that online sites will keep people from visiting casinos. However, the Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection, with support from Caesar's and MGM, for example, want to throw their weight into the potential market.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan became the youngest couple to lead the list of biggest U.S. donors, thanks to a gift of 18 million Facebook shares awarded to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The lump sum gift was close to $1 billion, with a large amount aimed towards education and healthcare.
Zuckerberg and Chan were No. 2 on the list in 2012, with a heavy emphasis on developing Northern California and U.S. infrastructure.
Contributions from the top 50 philanthropists in the U.S. topped $7.7 billion, along with $2.9 in promised pledges. A recovering economy and a friendlier stock market has allowed Silicon Valley tech leaders to increase donations - an unwritten expectation among the wealthiest U.S. business leaders.
Social media plays an important role for viewers, businesses, and sponsors of major international events, with the 2014 Winter Olympics from Sochi, Russia, providing a great opportunity for Twitter and Facebook. Twitter gives smaller countries and lesser known Olympic athletes a way to share their love and passion for their sports with new fans - and give sponsors additional return-on-investment.
"The social media experience it's all about time and efficiency," said Justin Maas, fishbat Client Relations VP, in a press statement. "By making it easier for users to retrieve the information they want, Twitter has added value to its site. Twitter is essential for gathering news. Adding special pages for Olympics athletes and events was a smart move by the social network."
Journalists and Olympics viewers share stories, results, and interviews with one another - and with mobile content increasing, it's become even easier to share information to Twitter and other social media websites. However, athletes and coaches in Sochi aren't allowed to post audio or video from sporting events or anything happening in the Olympic Village. They can record audio or video for personal reasons, however, it cannot be done with professional recording equipment.
Meanwhile, some have used social media to protest the Russian government's anti-gay stance that has shocked many visitors to the country.
Major pizza chains are able to use customized online ordering systems to woo Internet users, while mom and pop shops are having trouble trying to keep up. Papa John's, Domino's Pizza, Pizza Hut, and other large chains are able to support online ordering using automated systems tested across multiple locations - but smaller local pizza shops traditionally need to use walk-in and telephone orders to handle customer interactions.
Younger customers are more inclined to order delivery through mobile or online services ,with smart TV and game consoles giving customers the chance to easily place orders.
"Most of the small and regional chains who still continue to sell the majority of the pizza in the U.S. simply aren't able to play on these technology platforms with the level of sophistication that we have," said Patrick Doyle, Domino's CEO, during an investor's financial call.
Local pizza shops often provide lower prices, better service and higher quality pizza, but trying to compete with organized online ordering is difficult. However, services such as Eat24 level the playing field, though larger corporations can more easily afford to pay the commission per order. Even so, the larger chains tend to be able to provide bigger online ordering coupons and discounts, making it more appealing for those just looking for a quick meal.
Shortly after receiving an emotional plea from a father whose son died at 21 years old due to natural causes, Facebook will provide a 62-second Look Back of the son's account. After sending numerous letters that didn't garner a response, John Berlin posted a heartfelt, emotional plea on YouTube, which quickly went viral.
Following the death of a Facebook member, when verified, the account is removed so friends and family no longer have access. However, Berlin doesn't want access to his son's account, and just wants to be able to view the Look Back and see the pictures generated in the brief collage.
The Look Back feature was rolled out for Facebook's recent 10-year anniversary, and has proven popular among avid Facebook users.
The founder of Silk Road, Ross Ulbricht, has been indicted and faces significant time in prison if he's found guilty, as the federal government attached the "kingpin statute" to the case. The FBI has seized more than $150 million in Bitcoin, the only type of currency Silk Road accepted from customers.
Ulbricht was arrested in October and has been charged with computer hacking, money laundering, engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, and running a narcotics conspiracy. If convicted of all charges, Ulbricht faces a life-sentence, with some charges carrying 20-year minimum sentences - and the trial is expected to start later this year.
Not surprisingly, the federal government wants to make an example of Ulbricht and his accomplices, to prevent other groups from trying to fill the void. Estimated profits from Silk Road topped $22 million in annual sales, so the temptation will drive someone else to create a similar service.
Pornhub saw some interesting traffic over the weekend as the Super Bowl took place, with traffic dipping heavily at 3PM, but building up incredibly high from Denver between 7-9PM.
With the game starting at 3PM, traffic on Pornhub dipped heavily, but as of around 5PM it looks like porn watchers from Denver decided to skip the game in favor of some digital lovin'. Seattle-based Pornhub visitors weren't alone, but they didn't start jumping onto the site until around 9PM, hours after Denver fans checked out of the Super Bowl.
Some interesting numbers for Pornhub here, to see how quickly fans at home were jumping back onto their desktops and laptops and onto Pornhub during a disappointing game for the Broncos.
The recently launched Academic Torrents service is a torrent site focused on sharing academic papers, research material and data sets, according to the University of Massachusetts. Academic Torrents was started to help researchers to more easily share and find information, and was founded by students from the Department of Computer Science from UMass, Boston.
Academic Torrents already has more than 1.67TB of research data available to those interested. Researchers no longer have to worry about trying to upload, host, and share content on their own servers, and uses peer-to-peer to share files.
Torrents tend to be in the headlines for copyright infringement and piracy, but it's possible to find academic material, open source drivers and software, and legal torrents to download.
Internet giant--no, we're not talking about Google--Yahoo has seen a breach of its security. An undisclosed number of e-mail addresses and passwords, collectively accounts, were compromised, Yahoo informed users via its Tumblr page. Yahoo says, "Upon discovery, we took immediate action to protect our users, prompting them to reset passwords on impacted accounts."
Yahoo believes that the information was obtained from a third-party database, not their own systems, but they are working with law enforcement to hopefully find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Yahoo says that they have implemented additional measures to keep accounts safe. Impacted accounts have had their passwords changed and Yahoo is allowing "second sign-in verification" to allow users to regain access.
If your account was compromised, you may have received an e-mail notification or SMS, if you had added a mobile phone to your account. As always, Yahoo reiterates good user security:
In addition to adopting better password practices by changing your password regularly and using different variations of symbols and characters, users should never use the same password on multiple sites or services. Using the same password on multiple sites or services makes users particularly vulnerable to these types of attacks.
Everyone's favorite online shopping destination is considering a price hike for everybody's favorite two-day shipping club. That's right, Amazon is considering increasing the price of US Prime memberships by $20-$40. This piece of information was given out yesterday during Amazon's earnings call, during which it detailed its earnings.
It's not exactly clear why Amazon would want to increase the price for US Prime memberships, especially considering they reported record membership numbers. One reason provided was higher shipping costs, though I'm not completely convinced this is the real reason. Since its inception, Amazon Prime has expanded beyond two-day shipping by adding free Kindle rentals and instant streaming of over 40,000 videos. I would venture to guess that the cost of adding content to the streaming service is the real reason for the contemplated price hike.
It's possible that Prime memberships could end up having different tiers, though Amazon's CFO dodged a similar question during the earnings call yesterday. One thing is clear, don't be surprised if you start having to pay more for your Amazon Prime subscription.
Facebook is still popular, especially among younger demographics, and won't suddenly spiral out of popularity anytime soon, according to the Forrester Research group. Following a recent Princeton University study predicting Facebook will no longer exist by 2021, which the No. 1 social media site immediately argued against.
In the Princeton study, two PhD students also predicted Facebook would lose 80 percent of its users by 2017 - which Forrester also disputed.
"In fact, from a user perspective, Facebook is in rude health," according to a recent Forrester blog. "Its number of monthly users is still growing - up to 1.19 billion in Q3 2013. More importantly, more and more of those users are coming every single day: in Q3 2013, its daily user count was 61% of its monthly user count, up from 55% in Q2 2012."
It's no surprise Facebook didn't take kindly to the Princeton study, as Facebook is a publicly traded company and wanted to dispel the study - and all rumors - and Forrester's blog should help temporarily quash those worries.
Many users worldwide are experiencing outages worldwide outage of several Google services including GMail, Google+, Google Hangouts and more over the last several hours. GMail service seems to largely be fully restored but it appears that service has yet to be restored to Google Hangouts on the east coast of the US.
With the Google+ outage YouTube comments are not working, and I have been unable to reach any of my Google Drive space all day long. GMail is back up on the east coast, but a friend in Oregon is reporting that its still down for him. Google has not stated a reason as to why the outage is occurring or what the cause is, but they are saying that it is temporary and service should be back to normal soon.
The proclaimed "king of revenge porn," Hunter Moore, and one other person were arrested and charged based on activities related to the once-popular website, isanyoneup.com.
"The moral of the story is that his revenge porn site wasn't a good enough business model, and that he had to engage in illegal activity to populate the site with pictures," noted Wes Hsu, assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California/leader of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crime Section.
Both Moore and Charles Evens were charged with conspiracy, seven counts of aggravated identity theft and seven counts of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information, including efforts to hack e-mail accounts to steal personal information. Moore previously stated on numerous occasions that everyone on the site were anonymously submitted to isanyoneup.com, which the federal government claims isn't true.
Evens was reportedly paid $200 per week for his criminal activity, with the working relationship first starting sometime in 2011. Hearing that both men could face up to five years in federal prison is little solace for the people that had their pictures and personal information published on the website.
British government officials are currently debating the Intellectual Property Bill, with the Prime Minister's staff looking to crack down severely on repeat file sharers. The government wants to begin removing Internet access privileges to repeat offenders that are determined to be 'persistent offenders.' In fact, increasing the maximum penalty for copyright infringement up to 10 years is a current topic of discussion during the meeting.
"The discrepancy I mentioned is a source of great frustration," said Mike Weatherly, the Prime Minister's intellectual property MP, in a statement. "For example, the private prosecution by the Federation Against Copyright Theft of Anton Vickerman, who was making £50,000 a month from running a website (SurfTheChannel) that facilitated mass-scale copyright infringement, saw him convicted of conspiracy to defraud and sentenced to four years in prison."
A counter argument issued by Helen Goodman, UK MP, noted that it seems ignorant to distinguish between the teenager downloading music for a mobile device and organized copyright piracy groups.
National governments in North America and much of Europe are trying to combat online piracy and copyright infringement - with varying levels of success - and will continue to be a major issue in 2014.